The same year that Manhattan’s dazzling Chrysler Building began taking shape, Yarra-side Toorak gained this elite residence that also embraced art-deco design.
The two may be in different hemispheres and at the far ends of the style’s spectrum, but each reflects the upbeat mood of the era, celebrating luxury, the postwar (but pre-Depression) return to craftsmanship, and bold new architectural ideas.
Striking geometry, gracious curves and stylish motifs are art-deco hallmarks, but a zinc-clad extension, merged indoor/outdoor living areas and contemporary kitchen and bathrooms meet the demands of a modern family.
The way all the elements collaborate, wrapped in lush private gardens, is a tribute to skilled designs by award-winning Franco Fiorentini of F2 Architecture and Jack Merlo landscaping.
The house sits well back from Grange Road, so elevated that it enjoys city views and a treetop setting from its west-facing terrace and the first-floor main bedroom.
It uses its corner site on appropriately named Hill Street to advantage; the facade, pedestrian entry, garage and extra off-street parking access, plus a bin/services gate, face the side street.
The original section offers a stately street presence to the south of rust-coloured brickwork with chimneys, charcoal trims and hipped slate roof, and leaves a perfect space on the north side for a lap pool, strip of artificial lawn and a limestone-paved courtyard in the shade of a Chinese elm.
At the secure tiled porch we’re back in 1928, noting decorative relief brickwork, an art-deco leadlight window that lights the stairwell and wavy cornices in the generous foyer.
The formal living room has a grand granite fireplace and timber mantel, french doors to the terrace and an inviting little sitting area with an angled window to the north-west.
The well-fitted study shows its heritage in a fireplace relief carving of leaping deer and the staircase has the most eye-catching piece of history: a theatrical balustrade made of timber panels with carved handrail and curved newel posts.
The top landing leads to three children’s bedrooms, two almost identical modern bathrooms and the full-width main bedroom.
This oversized domain has three sections of wardrobes, a luxurious en suite and a light-filled adjacent space – a dressing room, a reading room, or simply a quiet place.
Let’s fast-forward into the 21st-century casual living areas, where the sympathetic ambience comes from quality and room proportions rather than any attempted reproduction.
The upstairs living/TV room has walk-in storage hidden behind flush panelling, a large glass-fronted balcony. A back staircase runs alongside an exterior wall of glass.
The stairs bring you to the end of the house. You can go straight ahead to the rear garden and pool, turn right into the garage, head back through a laundry/pantry corridor to the kitchen, or go left to the family and meals area.
This uncomplicated contemporary zone has sliding glass doors to the courtyard and a free-standing room divider that forms an entertainment unit on the front side and serves pantry and laundry functions behind.
The dining room, just off the kitchen/meals area through a sliding door, is where the house’s two personalities meet. The room retains period features, including a fireplace, but a modern recess framing french doors to the terrace brings brick and zinc together in a marriage of the eras.
Among the many extras on site is a pooch parlour – heated quarters with pet access to the garden and garage. It’s luxury for fur-babies that evokes the forward thinking of 1928.